"You shouldn't let men kiss you frivolously," his words offended her.
Alexander hadn't meant to phrase it that way, but his anger had slipped through getting it out before he could prevent what he said.
"Forgive me, I didn't mean it that way," he apologized to reduce the damage while she nodded not meeting his gaze.
"I didn't mean it to happen. It was the first time," she said whispered softly. It was the first time a man apart from her family had shown such affection.
"I know, love," Alexander's face softened while his hand rested on her waist gently, "Letting a man kiss you and not reprimanding makes one think that you are okay with it because that's how society thinks. Or is it that you like Lord Nicholas?"
"I don't!" she said quickly looking in his eye and added, "I think Lord Nicholas was only being nice to me. May be a little over friendly."
"Stay away from him," he said bluntly making Katie blink.
"What? Why?" her brows furrowed in question.
"Because I said so. He is a sweet talker with intentions you wouldn't know."
"But he is a good man," she argued and saw his eyes narrow.
"And I could be a bad man," she sensed the warning in his tone, "Until you're under my wing, I expect you to behave and listen to what I say. Do not let any man kiss you, Katherine. We don't want you falling into wrong hands like before so play along."
Lord Nicholas had been good to her and she was sure the man didn't hold any wrong intentions over her. Even though he was looking out for her Lord Alexander had no right to control on whom she should and shouldn't speak to.
"I'm not yours to listen," she blurted out and felt her face flush with embarrassment for the second time in the evening, "I mean you can't-"
"So disobedient," he murmured before his hand moved from her waist to her back pulling her close to him and he whispered, "Would you want to be mine?"
"W-what-no, I didn't mean t-that," she stuttered suddenly feeling dizzy and her eyes going unfocused.
Did she mishear what he said? Or did her brain start to hallucinate things which she hadn't even dared to imagine.
"Relax. I was only teasing you," he gently calmed her.
He found the sight adorable seeing her react like a small flustered animal. When the song finally came to an end, Alexander let her hand go.
After the dance Katie went to change her clothes, wearing a coat over a trousers and shirt which she had borrowed from her cousin long ago.
She now walked with her friends into the human town and saw the happiness filling the atmosphere. It reminded of the time she had spent the day of Hallow with her family. The town she previously resided in didn't celebrate it extravagantly but nonetheless it was celebration.
A group of children ran across them with fascinating outfits and an elder couple wished them a 'Happy Hallow'.
Corey pulled Katie to the circled crowd that had gathered ahead of them where men, women and children danced in a merry way. She laughed with Corey as he tried to twirl her with their wrong co-ordination. Dorthy and the others joined to goof around and taking turns to spin each other around.
"I'm fine," Katie replied when a little girl approached Corey, wanting to dance too.
Most of the folks had gathered in this part of the town, others looking at the small street plays and the rest scattered here and there.
Katie clapped along others while she stood aside, cheering her friends. Once they were through looking around the streets after dancing and eating at a friends house, they began walking back to the mansion.
It was a twenty minute walk through the woods and by road forty minute distance. And they took the path through the woods with each one holding a lantern in their hand.
"If you don't practice, you're going to break your arm," Corey stated making Dorthy roll her eyes.
"I'll be fine," she huffed.
"Corey is right. The ground tournament isn't something to be taken so lightly," Fay said turning back, " Why would you add your name when you know nothing about it ?"
"I thought it would be fun," Dorthy murmured like she was being scolded by her parents.
"She's an idiot," Cynthia commented while checking her nails.
The ground tournaments was a battle to see the best fighters. Elites bid on them, on who would win or lose. While one side it was an entertainment for the elites on the other side the ones who took part in it could be badly injured or worse lose their life.
"Isn't it possible to remove her name?" Katie asked and saw Matilda shake her head.
"Once give, its done. There's no way out," Matilda sighed as she looked around as though she heard something in the woods.
"All the best, Dorth," Katie rubbed her friends arm encouragingly.
The woods were filled with crickets sound along with their footsteps as they spoke. From far they heard a wolf howl making them look at each other as the wind began blowing through the winds giving an eerie chill.
Matilda raised her lantern, looking at the direction they came from.
"We should have picked the road," Fay spoke under her breath.
"Look, there is a family who lives there. If something does happen we can ask for their help," Corey said pointing his hand towards a house.
"They sure are celebrating Hallow well with no lights," Katie said looking at the dark house. There was no sign of anyone around the house as it was dead silent apart from their voices.
"Can we ask for water?" Cynthia asked tired.
"I'm thirsty too," Dorthy said as she stretched her arms with a yawn.
Reaching the house, Katie moved forward to look at the crack in the window and the cobwebs that hung around the entrance. They knocked the door and were surprised to find the door already open.
"Hello, is anybody home? We were wondering if we could get a glass of water," Corey asked to receive silence in response, "Hello?" he called out again.
"I don't think anybody lives here," Katie answered with a frown.
Curiosity of young minds led them into the house. The entire house was covered with cobwebs in every corner of the house and there was no one in sight.
"I wonder why the house hasn't been demolished if no one lives here anymore," Matilda said walking around the little table as she swiped her finger to feel the dust on her fingers.
"Do you think it's a haunted house?" Fay asked Cynthia while inspecting a rod like stick in the living room.
"Don't scare me more than I already am," the woman replied as she stood near the entrance refusing to take a step forward over the threshold.
As they walked around the house Dorthy and Matilda went to look upstairs while the rest stayed down. The house had too many things and it didn't seem like a poor man's house. Katie wondered why the house was abandoned.
She walked into another room with the lantern in her hand. It was a large room with only one window at the other side of the room. The room seemed to be in better condition compared to the living room and kitchen.
Moving the lantern, she gasped seeing a person sitting on the floor and her heart thundering in her chest. On a closer look she realized it was a big sized doll and she breathed a sigh of relief. There were other dolls sitting on the floor, some closed eyes and some with its eyes open. They looked strange for some reason like the dolls lives were taken out of it, not that a doll could have a life. Yet, they were beautiful than the other.
She heard Dorthy and Corey voices getting closer to the room while she stared at the dolls eyes.
"Wow, they are pretty. The owner must have been fond of dolls," she heard Dorthy speak behind her.
Corey bent down to touch one of the dolls hair, "Is this horse hair?" scrunching his brows.
"I guess so," she replied.
"Don't you think you guys have explored enough?" they heard Cynthia getting impatient.
And they got out of the house to join their friend.
As they began walking away from the house, Katie turned around to take one last look at the house and noticed a window flex by itself.
"What happened?" she heard Matilda question her and she shook her head.
"Nothing," and they left the woods.